United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
matter is before the court for review of the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”)
filed on December 17, 2018 (ECF No. 12). The Report addresses
Plaintiff Laura Pergolizzi's (“Plaintiff”)
claim for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”)
and recommends that the court reverse the decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security Administration (“the
Commissioner”) and remand the matter for further
administrative proceedings. (ECF No. 12 at 15.) For the
reasons stated herein, the court ACCEPTS the
Report, REVERSES the decision of the
Commissioner, and REMANDS the action for
additional administrative proceedings.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Report sets forth the relevant facts and legal standards,
which this court incorporates herein without a full
recitation. (ECF No. 12.) As brief background, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) determined that
Plaintiff was not disabled for purposes of the Social
Security Act (“the Act”) on September 27, 2016,
and denied Plaintiff's claim for DIB. (ECF No. 6-2 at
37.) Although the ALJ found that Plaintiff has “major
depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, attention
deficit disorder, lumbar degenerative disc disease and
radiculopathy status-post surgery, crohn's disease,
overactive bladder, and fibromyalgia, ” the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff possessed “the residual
functional capacity to perform a range of sedentary work . .
. .” (Id. at 25, 28.) Plaintiff requested the
Appeals Council (“the Council”) to review the
ALJ's decision and was denied that request on August 28,
2017. (ECF No. 6-2 at 1.) Thus, the ALJ's decision became
the final decision of the Commissioner. (Id.)
See also Meyer v. Astrue, 662 F.3d 700, 704 (4th
Cir. 2011) (stating that an ALJ's decision was the final
decision of the Commissioner when the Council denied a
request for review); Higginbotham v. Barnhart, 405
F.3d 332, 336 (5th Cir. 2005) (holding that the
Commissioner's “final decision” includes when
the Council denies a request for review). Plaintiff filed the
instant action on October 30, 2017. (ECF No. 1.)
Report, the Magistrate Judge found that the ALJ “erred
by relying on the [vocational expert]'s testimony to
reach his decision, thereby requiring a remand of this case
for further review.” (ECF No. 12 at 4.) Specifically,
the Report reasoned that there was a discrepancy between the
requirements for certain jobs identified by the vocational
expert and Plaintiff's residual functional capacity.
(Id. at 7-9.) The Report ultimately concluded that
“the ALJ did not obtain a reasonable explanation for
the conflict between the [Dictionary of Occupational Titles]
and [vocational expert]'s testimony before relying on the
[vocational expert]'s testimony that Plaintiff could
perform [the] jobs listed by the [vocational expert].”
(Id. at 8.) In addition to the foregoing, the Report
found that the ALJ “failed to ‘build an accurate
and logical bridge from the evidence to his
conclusion.'” (Id. at 14 (quoting
Monroe v. Colvin, 826 F.3d 176, 189 (4th Cir.
2016)).) Taken together, the Report could not conclude that
the ALJ's decision was based upon substantial evidence.
(Id. at 10-15.) On these different bases, the Report
recommended that the court reverse the decision of the
Commissioner and remand the case for further administrative
proceedings pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
(Id. at 15.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the
District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge only makes a
recommendation to this court, and the recommendation has no
presumptive weight. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The responsibility to make a final
determination remains with the court. Id. at 271. As
such, the court is charged with making de novo
determinations of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which specific objections are made.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also
Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). In the absence of specific
objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report, the court is
not required to give any explanation for adopting the Report.
See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir.
1983). Rather, “in the absence of a timely filed
objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo
review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no
clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation.” Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).
Furthermore, a failure to file specific, written objections
to the Report results in a party's waiver of the right to
appeal from the judgment of the court based upon such
recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Thus, the court
may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation or recommit the matter
with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
parties were apprised of their opportunity to file specific
objections to the Report on December 17, 2018. (ECF No. 12 at
17.) On December 21, 2018, the Commissioner notified the
court that she would not object to the Magistrate Judge's
Report. (ECF No. 13 at 1.) Plaintiff has not filed any
objection to the Report.
instant case, the court has carefully examined the findings
of the Report and concludes that the ALJ's decision was
not supported by substantial evidence. (ECF No. 12 at 7-15.)
Among the numerous other errors identified by the Report, the
ALJ also failed to sufficiently account for Plaintiffs
moderate limitations in concentration, persistence, and pace
by restricting her residual functional capacity to simple
tasks or unskilled work. (ECF No. 6-2 at 28, 83-85.) See
generally Mascio v. Colvin, 780 F.3d 632, 638 (4th Cir.
2015) (holding that an ALJ does not account for a
claimant's limitations by restricting a hypothetical
question to simple, routine tasks or unskilled work). Since
no specific objections were filed by either party and the
Report does not contain clear error, the court adopts the
Report herein. See Camby, 718 F.2d at 199;
Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315.
thorough review of the Report and the record in this case,
the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 12) and incorporates it
herein. Therefore, the decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security Administration is REVERSED, and
this case is REMANDED for further
administrative action pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C.